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Marketing 360® Blog

Can Your Brand Sell Intangible Value?

Intangible added value are the benefits a product suggests it offers – but are not a tangible feature.  This is often where emotional motivators are highest.

This Chevy Truck commercia, gives an example of intangible added value:

There is nothing about the utilitarian aspects of owning a truck here.  Nothing about comfort, engine power, or handling.  Nothing that compares it to Dodge or Toyota.

Instead, a guy should want a truck because it makes him sexy and cool (better yet both at the same time).

This add uses a particularly blatant message of intangible added value.

The idea that you would be more attractive because you drive a truck can’t be held or touched.  It’s not a feature of the vehicle itself.

This not a scientific study, though it insinuates that it’s objective.  These “real people” were selected for this commercial.  There are no control factors in this “survey”.  What if the other was a red sports car?  Then who would be more attractive?

This is pure advertising.  And sex, as we all know, is powerful emotional motivator.  Sex and fear of loss are probably the two most used intangibles in advertising.

You may know the concept of features vs benefits.  A drill turns a bit fast – that’s a feature.  It makes holes in things quickly – the benefit.  As they say, people don’t buy drills, they buy being able to make holes.  They buy the benefit.

But holes are a tangible benefit.

Intangible added value takes this concept further, usually trying to drive home a more emotionally laden message.

For example, a homeowner who’s wife is happy because he uses his drill to complete home improvement projects is getting an intangible added benefit – and one that may motivate him to buy more than any other feature or benefit of the drill.

Chevy forked out big money to show this ad during the Super Bowl.  The nature of the add suggests their target audience is in fact men who don’t really need a truck to haul things around (notice how the background is a city) but rather men who like the image that truck ownership represents – part of which is that they’re more manly.

Intangible added value is where advertising delves into psychology – where the story and the emotional connection are strongest.

It’s also seen by many as shady advertising, because it does seek to manipulate people emotionally without presenting a verifiable feature or benefit of the product.

Big brands like Chevy and Budweiser use intangible value to great effect on ads reaching large target audiences.

But this is also something smaller businesses can blend into ads, website content and videos.  To uncover the intangible benefits you offer ask:

  • What emotional states of mind do we want to cultivate in our prospects?
  • What lifestyles are associated with our products?
  • What fear or pain can we help our customers avoid?
  • Is there sex appeal to our offer?
  • Who is our idea buyer?  Do we have personas for different target areas?
  • What do our real customers say about us?  What storyline exists in our testimonials?
  • What is our product’s story?  How does it improve lives beyond tangible benefits?

Does owning a truck make you a sexier man?  Well, it’s not in the owners manual.  But if you think it does – and it increases your confidence – then you may think this commercial is selling something as tangible as a steering wheel.

Which is just fine with Chevy.